The laws in Spain around extensions, refurbishment and home improvements are strict. All changes you might make to your home need approval from the town hall. Home improvements in Spain fall into two categories:
- Major works e.g. building an extension, conservatory or swimming pool
- Minor work everything else such as adding a balustrade or an awning
The town hall sanctions the work and for a major work you will need a drawing by an architect to get planning permission in Spain.
If you go ahead without the proper planning permission, even if the builder has assured you that it has been received, you are liable to have your home improvement demolished or have to restore it to its original state if it cannot be legalised. If your refurbishment varies from the architect’s plan you can also be fined and required to correct the refurbishment until it complies with what was originally intended.
There used to be one area of leniency. Once four years had elapsed after the building work was completed, the town hall was unlikely to take action against you. However, a new law, commonly known as the Lotup (ley de ordenación del territorio, urbanismo y paisaje), has already been approved by the Regional Board.
This new urban law applies specifically to the Comunidad Valenciana and once it has been finally ratified you can be prosecuted if you have carried out any building work without proper planning permission in the last 15 rather than 4 years.
Enforcing the new law in Torrevieja
Torrevieja town hall is increasing the number of inspections of urban properties in 2014. Last year 500 files were opened and 100 demolitions were set in motion. In one example, 80 people on a residential urbanisation had received notification that their property was under investigation. Fines are being issued along with orders for property to be legalised or extra building work demolished if it cannot be legalised.
The town hall has announced that they have contracted a business to carry out demolitions where they are not conducted voluntarily. If you do know that not all the work you have done on your property has been agreed by the town hall, now is the time to take action. You can apply for retrospective planning permission.
If you are thinking of selling
This new law not only has implications for those people directly targeted by the town hall. If you are considering selling your property you should put your Deed in order now. It will not enhance the attractiveness of your property if potential buyers become aware that there is illegal build on or around it.
Differences between what is specified on your Deed and the property itself will become evident during the conveyancing process. Before putting your property on the market you should contact a solicitor directly to help you apply for retrospective planning permission.
If you do go to the effort of making your home better, do make sure that you fulfil the legal requirements too.